This post is part of a series of posts about the systems I use during the summer to help keep our days simple, fun, educational and productive.  You can find all other posts in the series here: Stress-Less Family Summer System.

Quick note:  Being organized is a talent of mine.  Being crafty is not.  My system is organized and works well, but it isn’t overly cute.  (-:  If you are crafty and decide to use some or part of my system, I’d love to see some pictures of it “cute-i-fied!”  Email them to me ([email protected]) and I’ll add them to the post!

Simple and Free Activites to encourage quality time with your kids during the summer

Quality Time

Quality time with our kids is so important.  At least in my opinion it is.  I love this story (from this talk here):

A friend took his young family on a series of summer vacation trips, including visits to memorable historic sites. At the end of the summer he asked his teenage son which of these good summer activities he enjoyed most. The father learned from the reply, and so did those he told of it. “The thing I liked best this summer,” the boy replied, “was the night you and I laid on the lawn and looked at the stars and talked.” Super family activities may be good for children, but they are not always better than one-on-one time with a loving parent.

We do have some “super family activities” planned for this summer, including some fantastic camping trips and extended family visits.  But I also wanted some simpler, easier things (like looking at stars) to be a regular part of our lives this summer.  I wanted to find a way to focus on things that matter most:

How to make it happen….

But life gets busy, right?  It can be so hard to set aside a few minutes each day for quality time with our kids.  I know when I get going on my to-do list, the important, but not urgent priority of quality time with my kids often gets lost.

But I don’t want it to be that way!  I want my kids to have lots and lots of simple, but meaningful memories of time with their Mom.

First, I set aside time in our daily schedule for quality time.  My kids know about it.  It is called “Mommy Time,” and they do NOT let me forget it.  They look forward to it every day.

But the next hurdle to overcome was thinking of things to do.  I didn’t want to waste precious time coming up with a different idea every day.

Simple and Free Activites to encourage quality time with your kids during the summer

“Mommy Time” Bucket

So, I created a “Mommy Time” bucket that is a companion to our “Bored Bucket.”  The board bucket is full of ideas my kids can do on their own.  But for the “Mommy time” bucket, I sat down and came up with a bunch of ideas of simple things I could do with my kids.  Most items in the bucket takes 30 minutes or less, but they are all simple, free and totally do-able.  But they force me to focus 100% on my kids for just a short period of time.  Each day around 2:45 or 3:00 we pick a stick from the bucket.  The only rule is that we HAVE to do whatever we pick!  Here is our list of activities:

  • Go on an ABC hunt (find something in our home that starts with every letter of the alphabet)
  • Read everyone’s favorite story
  • Have a dance party
  • Play Jenga
  • Research all about a new animal
  • Play duck duck goose
  • Play catch in the backyard
  • Research a country you don’t know about
  • Tell stories about when the kids were younger
  • Take funny pictures and send them to Dad at work
  • Color together
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Make popcorn on the stove top and eat it
  • Build a blanket fort
  • Play dominos
  • Sing primary songs at the piano
  • Play Tabletopics
  • Interview each kid on video for 5 minutes
  • Look at old family pictures
  • Find 10 new jokes online (knock knock jokes etc)
  • Clean out the car together
  • Write 5 things you love about your family
  • Blow bubbles in the backyard
  • Call Nanna
  • Practice math…have a challenge
  • Make cookies
  • Make a music video (tape the kids singing their favorite songs)
  • Play Simon says
  • Play “Animals Sleeping”
  • Write a thank you note to someone
  • Learn a new dance (like the macarena etc)
  • Play Quirkle
  • Call Granna
  • Wash the car together
  • “Google” something you want to learn about
  • Research a prophet
  • Play “Hotter / Colder”
  • Play Hide and seek
  • Play Charades
  • Make a treat for Dad

Simple and Free Activites to encourage quality time with your kids during the summer

Kinda Super Activities:

In addition to the “super family activities” mentioned above, we also have a list of “kinda-super family activities.”  haha.  These are things that we’d like to do away from home sometime during the summer as a group.  Most are still relatively simple (free and only take a couple hours, not whole day).  Once or twice a week, as our schedule permits, we choose one of these activities to do instead of pulling something from the “Mommy Time” bucket.  We usually go in the afternoon, but occasionally do during “playtime” in the morning:

There will also be a few activites we will do in the evenings or on weekends (with Dad):


That’s it!  I’d love to hear YOUR ideas on ways to have simple, but meaningful time with your kids each day!